Josh Ruben’s amiable fright flick has Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) – a ranger who, Mister Rogers style, has the innate ability to see the good in everyone – sent on assignment to the mountain town of Beaverfield. He’s there to enforce the law in a place where there’s almost universal opposition to the attempts of Midland Gas oilman Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall) to build a pipeline through the town and bring great riches to its residents.
Wheeler’s unfailing affability bemuses Beaverfield’s quirky set of residents, who include a gay yoga couple, a semi feral trapper, butch garage owner, and spunky mail person Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) with whom the ranger forms an immediate attachment. Unfortunately Wheeler is so nice that he can’t tell his manipulative ex-girlfriend to stop phoning him, which doesn’t go down so well with Cecily. Oh and there’s a visiting environmental scientist, Dr Ellis (Rebecca Henderson).
But Wheeler’s assignment is about to change course when the town’s residents start dying in rather grisly ways. Someone, or something, is stalking the good people of Beaverfield, and it’s up to our plucky but pleasant ranger to solve the crimes and identify the potentially lycanthropic perp from among the townsfolk who, because of a snowstorm, are all holed up in a B&B.
‘Werewolves Within’ opens with a quote about niceness from legendary genial TV star Mister Rogers, and then proceeds as a more humorous take on the 1974 werewolf whodunnit movie ‘The Beast Must Die’, coupled with the eccentric ensemble playing of 2019’s ‘Knives Out’ and the small town characters of the 1994 Canadian comedy crime series ‘Due South’. It also borrows heavily from the comedy of Edgar Wright movies, and while the movie has a quirky charm, it’s perhaps too in debt to these influences to truly satisfy. Mishna Wolff’s wicked script almost saves the day though, and the performances by Richardson and Vayntrub, particularly in the first half of the film, are truly endearing.
Words by David Dent
Werewolves Within is available now on DVD.